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Flash Points (more notes from KC)

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[In the first of an erratic series, Game Time's road warrior reporter sends us his notes from a road game.]


By JD 'Flash' Spillage


Yes, that is Flash in his Christian Backman game-worn jersey. We don't get it either.I am not a reporter. I am a writer. Reporters deal with facts. As a writer, I scribe mostly fact. My job here is not to provide in-depth game analysis. It's not to baste you with a barrage of statistics. Nor is it to judge player performance; especially tonight. After all, I'm watching the first preseason game of the year and it comes having completed only three days of training camp.


Rather, my job is to provide a glimpse of what you'll find in cities where the boys in Blue compete on the road. I'm here to give you insight to fans, venues and intangibles of the host cities we visit.


My focus will be on venue amenities, levels of hockey awareness and excitement displayed by fans. I'll also tackle important topics such as the amount and quality of hockey babes in attendance.


Let's begin with the new arena.


The Venue



  • The Sprint Center opened in the fall of 2007 to host...no one. Except for maybe the 72 concerts held there by Garth Brooks.




  • Brand spankin new, it has all the same bells and whistles you'll find at other new rinks across the land; wide concourse, upscale concession, luxury boxes, everything right down to the cliche', ear-blasting horn from the Love Boat.




  • Cell phone signal strength: Sprint = Full Bars. AT&T = Full Bars. Kudos to you, Sprint Center, for not being a monopolistic pig.




  • The first thing I noticed were the steep upper decks that protruded to make for a cozy setting. Nice.




  • The cutting-edge hover seat is unveiled.Not exactly hockey ready. Case in point: Hailing from Fenton, I can afford to sit closer to the action than most North County fans. Unfortunately, my seat, Section 113, Row 3, Seat 12, did not exist.




  • Sprint Center obviously in cahoots with Staples Center. Both are run by the same management company, AEG. The light banner going around the upper deck flashed mostly LA Kings shit. Souvenirs...mostly LA Kings shit. Even the lucky puck shuffle... LA Kings shit. Oh well, at least we had the home town rat there to entertain the crowd.




  • Warning: If there is ever another hockey game to be played here, do NOT purchase seats in the upper most corners of the Arena. You'll miss a third of the action. Let's see...doing the math...carry the one...divide by half the square root of 2.... Huh. That's only two periods of hockey. Sorry folks, to factor in overtime and shootouts, you'll have to advance to high school math. I have not. Hello?! I'm from Fenton, remember? I make my money selling meth.




  • Beer. It will cost you $5.75 for 12 ounces of liquid gold.




  • Restrooms. Small. And what's with me having to flush my own urinal? Come on KC. This IS America in 2008. You have the motion sensing soap and paper dispensers but failed to upgrade where I go hand to junk, hand to lever. Someone's going home with a rash tonight.




  • The upper deck located at the end where the Blues twice defended was curtained off. That's okay. I don't think the 11,000 or so people seemed to care.




  • Concessions: Best item on the menu, a hot dog covered with Kansas City Style BBQ beef. Eat this monster and that next sound you hear isn't the horn, it's the sound of your arteries collapsing into vortex of fat.




  • Availability and Proximity of Adult Entertainment. "Temptations." Totally nude. One and a half blocks south of the Sprint Center. The establishment does NOT sell alcohol. No problem. Just go next door to get your fill.




Fans



  • Tonight was KC's night to shine. It was the city's night to put on a pretty face and to impress the big wigs in the front offices of the NHL. "Here we are Mr. Bettman! We're ready. Can we have a team?! Please, oh pretty please?!"




  • Normally, I don't like to cuss. Not that I think it's wrong. I just believe that proper timing makes for a statement with more impact. That said, I'll be damned if the first fan I saw tonight wasn't wearing a red jersey with a stupid fucking wing attached to a tire. Really. Are these asshats everywhere? Well, sure enough, there are some in KC.




  • People I talked to came from as far away as Dallas, TX; St. Paul, MN; Rolla, MO; and Wichita, KS. One couple I spoke too claimed to be from "Canada." Wherever that is.... The first tandem I cornered for a mock interview happened to be none other than the uncle and cousin of former Blues draft pick and minor league star, Johnny Pohl. Uncle Pohl made sure to mention that Johnny is doing well and now plays professionally in Switzerland.




  • Everyone I approached was more than happy and polite to speak to me about all things hockey and all things KC. Five zippity do dah's for good behavior.




  • KC Represents. Most of the jerseys worn tonight were, of course, the Blue Note. You can bet the house that I was sporting my sweet Backman game-worn! In all, I listed 30 pro sweaters...23 current NHL teams - five former NHL teams, including the KC Scouts - two minor league teams, both ghosts of KC's hockey past - And finally, the sweetest most random of all, a Houston Oilers No. 34 Earl Campbell. Also in house were plenty of college teams.




  • Hockey Knowledge. I asked random people five questions to test their level of hockey awareness. Of those polled, 45 percent answered four out of five questions correctly. How do you rate?




  • Dude, look out! That rat bites!1. How many teams were originally in the NHL?




  • 2. Who won the Stanley Cup last year?




  • 3. In what city will you find the NHL's Hall of Fame?




  • 4. True or False: The St. Louis Blues have played in the Stanley Cup finals?




  • 5. Spell "Zamboni." To my surprise, only one person missed it.




  • My bonus question proved to be a little tougher for the folks without a franchise: Name the six teams that made up the original NHL.




  • Should KC have a team? Will KC support a team? Answers from the locals may surprise you. Everyone I asked said that they want a team. They would LOVE to have a team. But, most do not believe that their city should have a team. Most all cited the same factor: no fan support. One father-son duo sporting Coyotes sweaters told me that they have attended games in Phoenix every year of their existence in the sun state. The father then went on to say that, "Kansas City is absolutely the worst sports town in America."




  • Hockey Babes. All the Overland Park moms must have stayed home tonight. The pickin's were slim to none. Only two Flashes.




  • Most Disappointing: The four ladies sitting behind me that kept comparing the game to soccer.




Team



  • You will notice that Perron has gained weight. It looks good on him.




  • Patrick Berglund. First thought: "Holy Christ! When did Pronger start playing forward?" Compares to Pronger in size only.




  • KINGER!Kinger already in mid-season form. He thrashed Kevin Westgarth. King's punches connected more than Sarah Palin's message to teenage mothers. Connected more than Sean Gallagher calling 1-900 numbers. [editor's note: this is only partially true.]




  • Blues scored on a powerplay! On a nice centering pass from Perron, Kariya directed the puck in from his knees. It's probably not the first time he's scored from that position. Hopefully, it's not the last.




  • Starting forward line: Kariya - LW, Berglund - C, Perron - RW. "Uhhhh...Coach Murray? Looks good, but, uhhhh... Who's gonna crash the net or dig in the corners for loose pucks?"




  • TJ Oshie. First shift over the boards, made a dash to the far side to make a hit, created the turnover and the first scoring chance for the Blues. He even crashed the net looking for the follow up.




  • The game flowed pretty well even though it was played at half speed. First whistle didn't come until 6:27 in. Not much neutral zone play. Action kept primarily below the blue lines.




  • As for the Kings, their first round pick caught my eye before I even knew that it was him I was watching. No. 80 Drew Doughty will command the blue line for the Kings. When somebody says that a guy has "hockey sense," that he "sees the game well," I didn't really know what it meant until I saw Doughty.




  • Michal Handzus plays for the Kings. Remember him? He looks old...




Intangibles



  • The commercial area that surrounds the Sprint Center, known as "The Power and Light District," is top notch. You'll find plenty of bars and restaurants to please any pallet. The center square of the district sports concessions, seating, a large jumbotron TV and a stage, just in case a rock concert happens to break out.




  • Irony defined: Exiting the arena, we stumbled back to the "Power and Light District" for cheaper beers. Upon doing so, I noticed that the "P" in "Power" was burnt out.




  • I wasn't sure where to place this entry, under "Venue" or "Fans." When given the chance to vote on which song to play during a break in the action, the choice was clear.Fans roared for the DJ to play them some sweet Van Halen. Apparently, the "D" in DJ stands for deaf because he went ahead and played Black Sabbath instead. Not that I mind. At least he didn't play choice number 1, Garth Brooks.




  • 1st Intermission: Youth Hockey. The White team totally kicked the Blue Team's collective ass even though the Blue team won on a break-away goal. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think the kid used "The Move." I saw something during this spirited youth game that I never saw the likes of when watching two teams from St. Louis compete during intermission. The kids on this split team from KC actually passed the puck to one another.




  • There must be some corporate interest to have hockey in KC. The dashers were sold out with ads.




  • Run, hamster boy! Run!2nd Intermission. There's nothing I enjoy more than watching people who don't belong on the ice, fall down on the ice. Add the catalyst of running in a big, clear, hamster-like, plastic bubble wheel, and you my friend have fun-o-plenty. Now, if only they could catch that big blue rat....